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Payment plans top the list of debt management options for UK water customers

From the Knowledge Centre

In the face of the ongoing cost of living crisis, research from Aptumo, our next-generation water billing and CRM software, has shown that payment plans are the most popular form of financial support for water customers.

As inflation continues to exert pressure on households, many are struggling to stay on top of their bills despite their best efforts. Reassuringly, help is available for all customers.

The research, conducted with 2,030 UK bill payers, brings to light that nearly two-fifths (37%) of those struggling with water bill payments have found support in the form of a structured payment plan. This form of debt management helps bill payers settle their balance owed at intervals to suit them. According to the results, 100% of the customers that were offered a payment plan, accepted it in a bid to get in control of their finances.

Support is available

The findings highlight the importance of offering diverse support methods to customers. Water companies must make sure that financial support is signposted, and that customers do not suffer alone. By showing the comprehensive support options available, water customers can choose which method is right for them to help get them back on track.

The offer of affordable repayment options to help clear outstanding debt was also a popular support option according to the survey. It was offered to one in four (25%) struggling bill payers. A fifth of customers who asked for support were also offered alternative tariffs to reduce their bills.

The study also suggests that over a quarter (26%) of water customers have sought debt advice recently. Furthermore, 26% have opted for payment holidays or frozen charges to navigate rising household bills.

Improving customer communications

Water companies can undertake further work to remove any perceived stigma around asking for, or accepting, support to pay household bills by training their support staff in broaching the topic sensitively.

Segmenting customer data allows for targeted communication with customers based on their circumstances and preferences. This helps to develop deeper customer relationships. Billing information should always be clear, non-technical and jargon-free, so those who are vulnerable, struggling or anticipate facing a change of circumstances can understand the options available to them.

Generational differences amongst customers

Aptumo’s research identified some differences in generational attitudes towards asking for help with bills. The 22-25 age group is a staggering 686% more likely to ask their water provider to help than billpayers aged 55+.

On average, it appears that younger and more mature customers tackle financial management differently. Therefore, all service providers should avoid falling into the one-size-fits-all trap. When it comes to debt management in particular, support can be offered in a variety of ways.

Making debt guidance widely available means using every channel to deliver the message: clear signposting online, messaging on envelopes, and of course, through skilled and knowledgeable contact centre teams. With financial forecasters predicting that it may take years for pressures to lessen, continued investment into communication will ensure customers feel supported throughout this worrying period for many.

Click here to find out more about Aptumo’s research into affordability and water billing.

Find out how we could support your customers with their water bills here.

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